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Each November, retailers prepare for the rush of holiday shoppers, with Black Friday bargains being the starting line to the holiday shopping season, and 2015 wasn’t any different. Retailers like Best Buy, Target, and Walmart released their Black Friday deals ahead of time, with hopes of drawing lines of people who would need to be barricaded outside of the store before the mad rush.

But was it all for nothing?Black Friday shopping

According to Reuters, early data shows that Black Friday shopping numbers came up short for a lot of major stores, including Best Buy and Walmart, while Target did see an increase due to its marketing and promotion efforts.

The general consensus is that stores and malls were less crowded than in years past.

Part of the reason for this is because some stores opened earlier than ever before this year—Target opened its doors at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day while Best Buy started at 5 p.m. Because of that, many shoppers were able to secure all of their bargains before the clock even struck midnight. Now, we can debate all day about if its right to take employees away from their families on Thanksgiving to work a retail job, but the fact of the matter is that many big box retailers took value away from Black Friday by starting their deals early.

It should be noted that this year’s holiday shopping numbers are following the same trend as 2014, with the four-day Thanksgiving weekend starting off slow before seeing a surge in the final ten days of December, according to Reuters.

Dangers of Black Friday Shopping

Another reason for the decline in retail store’s traffic could be due to the dangers of Black Friday shopping, and 2015 wasn’t any different than previous years. If you’ve ever seen the movie Jingle All The Way, then you know what I’m talking about. If not, check out this video by Twitter user yung wifi showing a brawl at Mall St. Matthews in Louisville, KY on Thanksgiving.

This New York Daily News article highlights only a small percentage of fights recorded during Black Friday shopping.

Online Sales Up

The biggest reason for the decrease in foot traffic? Online sales.

U.S. shoppers spent $822 million in online shopping between midnight and 11 a.m. EST this year, which was a 15% increase from last year but still a lower mark than the originally-projected 19% growth mark, according to the Adobe Digital Index, which tracked 180 million visits to more than 4,500 U.S. retail websites. Online sales did rise 22% from midnight to 5 p.m. EST on Thanksgiving, which may show that launching online deals before Black Friday could be the right strategy moving forward.

For what it’s worth, there were some great Black Friday deals this year:

  • $700 off a 60-inch Samsung TV at Best Buy
  • 20% off a $75 purchase at Target
  • $100 gift card with the purchase of an Apple Watch at Target
  • $100 off an iPad Air 2 at Walmart
  • $49.99 for a Kindle on Amazon.com

Overall, the National Retail Federation is expecting holiday sales to increase 3.7% in 2015, which would be lower than last year’s 4.1% growth rate, largely due to dormant wages and slow job growth in the U.S. this year.

One thing that can’t be denied is the fact that online shopping will continue to dominate the Black Friday landscape, and Cyber Monday will continue to drive more revenue for eCommerce brands and online retailers.

Images via Shutterstock

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